The Questions About The Grenfell Tower Fire Everyone Is Asking But No-One Is Answering

The Questions About The Grenfell Tower Fire Everyone Is Asking But No-One Is Answering

On Wednesday the 14th of June residents of the Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea along with neighbouring areas woke to the news and horrifying sight of Grenfell Tower, a 1974 (KCTMO) 24-floor council building, brutally ablaze. Fire services struggled to put the fire out, and for over 12 hours horrified residents watched as the fire slowly and sinisterly engulfed the building from the outside in, and from the bottom upwards. By sunset Londoners from near and far had empathised and haphazardly organised support for the local residents, with donations pouring in to local religious and community centres. The sense of community and coming together was truly touching, but the feeling of shock and grief hung turgidly in the air.

Questions quickly arose as to who was to blame and how the situation could and should have been handled differently. Over the passing days, public consciousness was awakened, and it has become clear that the tragedy of Grenfell Tower is primarily a class and race issue, or more generally, a pressing political issue – and a prominent signifier of Britain’s dire social housing crisis.

The cyclical irony of the fact that this council building was erected during the austerity-driven Thatcher administration, and less than a week before this tragedy, Britain had been divided by an election campaign which offered a choice between a similar administrative power or a socialist sympathising Labour party, is obvious and not lost on us all still coming to terms with this terrible tragedy. One has to wonder whether May would have narrowly made that margin had the timeline of these two events been reversed?

The media are still stubbornly huddled around the site, insensitively skirting around the real questions and real answers, that those immediately affected by the disaster desperately desire. Why were the proper safety precautions not put into action, both when building the structure and during the incident? Where are the survivors being kept currently and where will they be housed? Who within the government and council should be held personally accountable for the massacre?  And most importantly why is the investigation progressing at such a slow pace and being relayed with such a lack of clarity? Why is this whole situation being mishandled in such an appalling way? 

If you head down to the area looking to volunteer you’ll most likely be told you’re not needed. Social media has rightly enthused and motivated many to get involved, the droves of donations that came and continue to pour in are a beautiful reminder of the public’s humanity, but ultimately the elephant in the room appears to be that there are simply too many donations for the number of survivors currently accounted for. Three days on from the incident, we must now come to terms with the fact that those earmarked as ‘missing’ are almost certainly dead.

How can we meaningfully help?

Go to the affected area. You may not be needed with the hands-on stuff you expected but there are so many grief-stricken community members who need an opportunity to be heard, a shoulder to cry on or a handheld.

Those with specific training in PTSD are a necessity. I encountered an acupuncture team offering free treatment to anyone shaken by the situation. A team of child psychologists from Switzerland have also been flown  in to  help the young community who witnessed the fire recover from the inevitable trauma. These are non-government funded programmes that concerned citizens have collectively coordinated due to the lack of support offered by the administration.

Check the credibility of donation websites. There is scepticism amongst the community that the monetary donations occurring via the Internet won’t actually reach the survivors, as their current and forthcoming whereabouts are widely unknown. Therefore I’d urge you to be careful and check the credibility of these websites, and if possible go to the area and give your donations directly to community leaders who will ensure it ends up in the correct hands.

Stay angry at the injustice and get involved in the upcoming protests. Pressure must be put on the government to ensure justice is met (21st June- beginning in Shepherd’s Bush, 1st July- outside the BBC building).

Write letters to your local MP and direct to the Prime Minister. Encourage the government to reverse Theresa May’s decision to carry out the investigation as a public inquiry rather than as an inquest in order to ensure full culpable visibility. The legal process must be carried out by by an impartial committee and not the government.

Mention the names of officials in your letters to the government. The affected community have collated a list of officials they believe to be responsible for the incident, mention these names in your letters to the government so that they’re made aware that the public has access to this information. Air your grievances and anger directly to those listed in the hope that they actually get convicted. Over the coming weeks, as the investigations and volunteer work continues, and the death toll rises, the charred and macabre monolith that was Grenfell Tower- home to nearly 700 people- will loom ominously over the Queen’s borough as an unflinching reminder of the real victims of ‘austerity England’ and capitalist ideology. And maybe it should remain there, in memoriam of those who were unjustly lost, and to serve as a morbid monument for the day we all woke up and said: Enough is Enough.


Written by Charlie Siddick


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